Six major libraries

It is with a powerful new dynamic that six major libraries in USA, Greenland and Scandinavia have combined in creating the project Arctic Imagination, where light is shed on the rapidly disappearing ice masses – a unique cooperation across the Atlantic in which a number of high profile artistic and creative voices will contribute to an international brainstorming of the area.

In just 100 years, the Arctic and the North Pole have been transformed from extremely dangerous, mysterious peripheral areas to regions which, in the race against climate change, are now in dire need of our protection and sense of responsibility. In 2017 the libraries will focus on this transformation in Arctic Imagination – a series of events, readings, and live conversations in New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Nuuk.

Arctic, the symbol of the unconquered

Down through the ages, the cold, mysterious region has attracted a great number of explorers, adventurers and artists. In the course of several centuries of Western cultural history, the Arctic and the North Pole have been seen within both art and literature as a symbol of the distant and unconquered, the desolate and merciless. This symbol, linked to extreme danger and vastly superior forces, was endlessly powerful. But for it to retain its great impact there has to be snow and ice, biting frost and cold.

Today, the Arctic region is being challenged especially by melting ice and rising sea levels caused by climate change. As The Arctic Resilience Report states the Arctic ice simply takes up less space than any previous measurements have ever shown. Also that the effects of the disappearing ice will be felt everywhere on the planet, even in the Indian Ocean. The warning signals are getting stronger. Exactly 100 years ago, the hardships and inhuman conditions resulted in the death of two of those taking part in the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen’s 2nd Thule Expedition in Greenland. Today, the temperature in the region is rising in record speed.

Science has given facts, diplomats made results

There is of course a need for increased research, despite the fact that for years developments have made the situation all too clear. This resulted, among other things, in the signing of a historic climate agreement for the international community at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. Science has given us facts and diplomats have achieved admirable results but developments in Arctic also constitute an intellectual and artistic challenge.

In an unusual cooperation, a number of conversations between artists, writers, and thinkers will take place in 2017 at the libraries involved on both sides of the Atlantic. The libraries, with their comprehensive collections of Arctic material and their centuries-old humanist tradition of mediating documentation, sharing knowledge and reflection are the obvious platform for disseminating these conversations to the public at large.

An artistic and intellectual reflection

The questions we wish to ask the invited conversation partners to reflect on are: How can we, in the light of the dramatic course of events in the Arctic, gain greater insight into the overall global development? And how can we via reflection of a more artistic and intellectual nature arrive at an original vision of an otherwise sustainable and transcending future for the whole planet?